Post by Eliza Barclay, The Salt at NPR Food (3/1/13)
Robert Lustig wants to convince the world that sugar is making us very sick. And lately he's turned to an unconventional field – econometrics – to do it.
Lustig rounded up statisticians and epidemiologists to look at the relationship between food and diabetes risk. The paper, published this week in the journal PLoS One, found that the more sugar on the market in 175 countries, the higher the country's diabetes rate.
"I'm not suggesting sugar is the only cause of diabetes," Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Franciso, tells The Salt. "But in this analysis it was the only thing that predicted it. And it was worldwide and over a decade."
The researchers found that for every additional 150 calories of sugar (the amount that's in a 12-ounce can of soda) available per person per day, the prevalence of diabetes in the population rose 1 percent. They compared that against an additional 150 calories of from any type of food, which caused only a 0.1 percent increase in the population's diabetes rate over the past decade.